As I type this, it's July 5th. The day after Independence Day is always more fun when it falls on a weekend. Today I had to get up and go to work while the remains of potato and macaroni salad bowls still sat on my table, there was enough grass tracked in my house I think we could've made a hearty attempt at baling it, and the yard looked like a war-torn ticker tape parade had gone through. The night before, the fireworks show kept getting interrupted by just enough rain to send everyone running for shelter under tents or the porch. It didn't stop the kids from continuing to play soccer and tag and frisbee, though. As I watched them slip and slide around the wet grass the phase “They don't have the sense to come in outta the rain” kept running through my head, but man, were they having a ball. We ate burgers, hotdogs, homemade ice cream, and visited and laughed. Of course, as tradition demands, we blew up an appliance with Tannerite. In the past we've done a washer and dryer – this year was a dishwasher. And I'll sure be glad when I stop donating broken appliances every year. It's fun to watch them disintegrate, but the homeowner in me is distraught we even HAVE them to explode.

And as I watched my precious family - both blood and in-laws together – enjoy the day’s festivities I couldn't help but think about something my son had experienced the week before at church camp. He and a few other staff members were asked to take a cabin “hostage” during evening devotion. Decked out in paintball gear that resembled body armor and masks, carrying paintball guns, they killed the cabin’s power and stormed the cabin full of teens at the pastor’s request. They dragged the pastor outside after asking him if he was willing to die for the people in the cabin and for his God. They made noises that sounded like gunshots. After taking another group outside to be “silenced” they came back in the find the group singing “Amazing Grace” even while they feared the worst truly had happened right here in northeast Oklahoma. Sam said the exercise was terrifying for the kids and bothered him and the other guys that were his co-“terrorists.”

“Mom, this could actually happen – this actually DOES happen every day in some places!” I could tell it was an experience that truly made an impact on him and it's really stuck with me as well. A man I don't know well, but come in contact with occasionally is always making comments on the state of our nation and how it's “gone down the tubes” and is “in shambles” and each time he says it I think, “She ain't perfect, but there's nowhere else I'd rather live, bud.”

We are so blessed to have what we have – running water, plenty of food, a Walmart within spitting distance any direction you turn, freedom to gather and worship, freedom to bear arms and protect those we love, freedom to marry and have children (or not if you choose) and so much, much more. Countless have died for this nation, for our freedoms and privileges, for...us. I wasn't there when they stormed the beaches at Normandy, but I feel the consequences of their sacrifices every day when I drive in my nice red car to a job in a town that isn't under martial law, nor do I have to worry about being shot down in the street for praying in public. My children are safe and I don't live in fear they'll be snatched from my grasp and sold into slavery.

No, America isn't perfect by any means. Our Founding Fathers probably didn't envision this to be our America back when they declared our independence, but they still knew she was a worthy home base. She was then. She still is.

-Born a semi-diva and married to a redneck, through the magic of osmosis or just because of a serious lack of sophistication over the years, Kristin Hoover has found a balance of the two that makes her what she is today.